The Democratic Party’s caucus concluded anticlimactically on Sunday, making no mention of the previously anticipated dismissal of chairman Anas Urbaningrum following his implication in a major bribery case.
The national leadership meeting (Rapimnas) was held in Jakarta on Sunday, just over a week after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, party founder and chief patron, said he was taking over the reins of the party’s leadership so that Anas could focus on his legal troubles.
Yudhoyono said in a Feb. 8 speech that Anas would nominally remain chairman, but pressure has continued to mount since the speech, with some analysts expecting his dismissal to be announced following the Sunday caucus.
But Yudhoyono made clear that an ouster was not forthcoming.
“The press has been probably waiting for big news from the Rapimnas. So what I’m saying now is probably disappointing,” Yudhoyono told a press conference after the meeting.
He said the caucus was aimed at shoring up the party, bogged down by a string of corruption scandals implicating some of its top officials that has marred the Democrats’ reputation, especially over the past two years. The president mentioned nothing about Anas’s dismissal.
Anas’s case is the latest in a string of cases involving Democrats, with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) having recently indicated that it is on the verge of naming him a suspect for bid-rigging in connection with the Hambalang sports center project.
Yudhoyono on Sunday lamented what he said was excessively harsh treatment of his party.
“I admit to mistakes committed by Democratic Party cadres related to corruption, but what we’re experiencing now [as an impact of that] is just too much,” he said.
“The Democratic Party hopes for justice and fair and balanced treatment. Nevertheless we’ll keep cleaning ourselves from bad elements.”
Yudhoyono added that all party cadres had signed an integrity pact, as he had recently requested, hailing it as part of the party’s commitment to restoring its image.
“We’ll continue to engage in political struggles in the coming weeks because developing opinions concerning the Democratic Party are really detrimental to the party’s reputation. After that, we will resume our work for the people,” he said.
Suara Pembaruan, JG